Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Residents opposed to restoring Murray River train station

Resident Wayne Burke says the Murray River train station, hidden behind trees and falling down, isn’t worth saving.Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt
Resident Wayne Burke says the Murray River train station, hidden behind trees and falling down, isn’t worth saving.
Published on August 28, 2013
Steve Sharratt  RSS Feed

MURRAY RIVER — To some people it’s a diamond in the rough that should be restored; but for others it’s an eyesore in the dust and should be torn down.
But any hopes to save the old Murray River train station may be falling off the rails as some residents insist any government funding to restore the station would be a complete waste of taxpayer’s dollars.
“Not one person I have spoken with has expressed a desire or interest in seeing tax payer’s dollars wasted on that old station,” contends resident Wayne Burke who lives next door. “Tear it down is what they’ve all said.”
A retired RCMP officer, Burke penned that sentiment in a letter to The Guardian and others in effort to bring public attention to the attempts by the village council, and chairman Garnet Buell, to save the building.
“The village wants to restore it and make it a tourist attraction,” Buell told the media. “There’s not too many of these stations left.”
The P.E.I. Transportation Department was going to tear down the 100 plus year old station as part of a plan to widen the Main Street here. However, council got a reprieve and the station was removed from the tender block which included tearing down three other buildings, including the former IGA store in the heart of the community.
However, Burke insists the train station, buried in trees, caving in, and home to rats, will cost inestimable dollars both for the village residents and Island taxpayers. Buell said he hoped to move the station to a nearby site this month but there has been no change. The station can’t be seen from the main road, but is tucked away behind the abandoned IGA store.
“I’m afraid Mr. Buell wants to save it because he used to work there in the 1950s, but it’s too far gone and it’s filled with rats,” he said. “I doubt you could even move it without it all falling down.”
Many Island communities have attempted to save former train stations and many have simply built replicas because of the condition and costs of restoration. The last train to run on P.E.I. was 30 years ago.
Burke, representing residents who support the demolition, has now requested the station be bulldozed as planned in a letter to the Premier, Minister of Transportation and other officials. The removal of all four buildings is expected to be underway at any time.
Exterminators have attempted to eliminate the rat problem associated with the cluster of abandoned buildings, but Burke says the effort simply drove them to his barn which is home to piles of rat feces. He also points out the tender for building removal includes the reclamation of an industrial septic system adjoining the building sites.
“I’ve discussed this topic with in excess of 100 residents here in the village over the past few months, and they don’t see the value and say it’s a huge eye sore in one of the prettiest communities there is,” said Burke.
The Guardian attempted to discuss the merits of the train station heritage with the head of the Museum and Heritage Foundation, but Dr. David Keenlyside was unavailable.


  1. as my brilliant niece once posted "tell the stupid people to shut- up"!! with respect Mr. Burke!!

  2. Instead of restoring one of the few things that might draw folks to anywhere outside of Charlottetown, they want to tear down anything that makes their village unique? That's brilliant. I wonder if they'll be saying the same thing in fifty years for the entire village.

  3. First of all, Carter, let me just say thank you for your comment. You have no idea how timely it is, since I was just about to write and give you heck for never offering your own opinions in many of your posts. Very nice indeed !

    Secondly, people like Mr. Burke are just sad. He says the station is a huge eyesore, which seems like something of a contradiction since it is hidden behind a large IGA and not even visible from the main road (according to the article).

    But more to the point, where is the vision and sense of community involvement ? People who want things done often find a way to do it. He IS part of the community, is he not ? There are many things that could be done with the station, potentially, if people opened their minds.

    What struck me as I read the article is that Mr. Burke might have an axe to grind. He lives close by, and was inundated with rats that have moved over to his property. Well, one solution to that is to not let buildings in such a small community deteriorate to the point where they're a nuisance. Another is to put the onus on those who own adjacent derelict buildings to control the situation. Sounds like he's putting all the blame on the one building, one that probably should have been looked after more carefully to begin with. Its effectively demolition through neglect.

    Zero vision, zero community spirit. Boo hiss.

    If Mr. Burke needs any inspiration for such a venture, perhaps he could look to the train station in Annapolis Royal, which was saved a few years ago when a single woman spearheaded a movement to save that structure. Today it stands as a valuable contribution to that town's built heritage.

    1. Thanks for your comments.
      It's hard to know where to start!! I've been driving all over the Island this summer and am amazed at the number of abandoned homesteads and buildings in rural PEI. In so many of these communities all their public buildings are disappearing - from churches, schools, stores, train stations, barns, banks, post offices, etc. What to do? Government doesn't offer help. I've been involved with some trail development projects and feel the restoration of the old train station in Murray River makes sense!! Most Islanders don't realize how well used the trail is by tourists. It's a perfect fit. Funny how communities are building the old train stations new again, ie. Georgetown, Morell, Wood Islands, and I prepared drawings for one in Hunter River. I shake my head!

  4. No, don´t fix up that original building, let´s spend thousands on a new one !! (with half the charm and none of the history).

    What´s happening in PEI isn´t unique....its happening across North America. But the kicker is that many of these other places don´t have the quality of built heritage that the Maritimes does. When you lose these places you´re not only losing a bit of your culture, you´re also losing an advantageous quality that other places don´t have. Its not a huge deal to lose a century home in Kansas City, but you don´t want to lose a 200 yr old house in PEI or NS.

    The gov´t can´t save some point the people themselves have to take responsibility for things. And where is the involvement of the private sector ? Why don´t businesses & corporations sponsor an historic building ? They´re located in many of these communities, and take their money from their inhabitants, so why not support those things that keep a town or village vibrant ? Besides, if a business really wanted to ingratiate itself with the community & people who buy their products, what better way to do that ?

  5. Thank you all for your excellent comments.
    I can understand Mr Burkes objections. At each and every meeting of those people interested in saving the station the subject of our duty towards taxpayers came up. Yes we agree that the last thing anyone wants is another empty tax-payer funding building in Murray River. It is the intention, of the group dedicated to saving the station, to make the building sustainable at little or no cost to the tax payer. As of today all work; inspection, planning, cutting the station away from the old store in preparation of demolition , making up blueprints etc, etc ,etc., has been privately funded or through the willing donation of volunteer hours. I would also like to explain to Mr Burke that so far our efforts have been to secure the station so that it is not damaged during the store demolition. After demolition of the store, the station will be professionally inspected by a third party. The results of the inspection will be a major factor in determining if the station should be saved. If the decision is no, then the town, who now owns the station, will dispose of it as they see fit, probably via auction. At least two parties have already expressed interest in the station should it be put up for sale. I personally hope the station finds a permanent home in Murray River and does not become a burden to the tax payers of Murray River and the Province. I am personally putting forth what ever efforts I can to achieve that goal. I thank Mr Burke for his opinion, hoping that he would be willing, if necessary, to divulge the names of the 100 + residents who are opposed to saving the station, as their opinion must be taken into account when the town council makes their decision. Respectfully Peter J. Metaxas Iona P.E.I.

    I originally posted this comment at

  6. Mary MacQueen ElliottAugust 31, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Thanks to everyone who is expressing their support for not only the Train Station in Murray River but for our Heritage in PEI. Many great ideas and for sure if communities do not get involved, all of these treasures will go by the way side. Yes it takes work, and yes it takes money but if a community and province gets behind these projects, they will overcome the hurdles and have something to be proud of in the end. Garnet Buell and his commitee deserve a lot of credit for taking a stand on this project and so does the Province of PEI for offering their support. I can't wait to see the Train Station when it stands alone in its original place once again. History and memories will be saved by those of us who care.

  7. Murray River and the Province is indeed fortunate to have in it's midst citizens interested enough in the preservation/restoration of this historic building to fight for it and who so far have had to expend their own time and resources to do so. Too many historic buildings/places representative of our culture, history and heritage have been allowed to fall by the wayside. Hopefully, this will not be one of them.
    Hurray for Murray River!!